Merrie Christmas Park is a beautiful, well maintained park on Le Jeune Road, east of US1 within the City of Miami. One of the first things that you notice as you pull up to the park, or even if you are passing by it, is the decline of elevation from the road surrounding it into the park itself. It's almost as if the park sits in a kind of geographic bowl. For a place like Miami, where flat topography is the norm, this difference in elevation is striking. It's not exactly rolling hills, but it is still unique from other parts of the city.
One of the best qualities of this park is that its focus is really on open space. There are so many parks in Miami that seek to control space, to use the land for specific, physical purposes: a basketball court in this corner, a pool in the other etc. That is not to say this can't be successful. Look no further than my previous post on Flamingo Park to see a park with a highly controlled use of space to see how a park offering a wide variety of recreational activities can be great. Still, there's something to be said about the feeling you get in a park that is simply open space to do as you please.
A playground, swingset and picnic tables/benches are the only real built objects in the park. The rest of the space is open to trees, and there are a lot of them. The shade provided by the trees was a welcome relief on what was a scorching hot day. In a city like Miami where tree coverage is low, it's nice to go to a park and seek relief from the brutal rays of the sun.
It was a great experience to go to a park where less was more. The park was well maintained but you never felt like it was controlled. Even on a hot day, walking beneath the huge trees of Merrie Christmas Park was an excuse to be out in the open. The wide open space allowed for families to sit around, throw a baseball, and have a recreational experience that wasn't dictated by already built structures. Thank you to Michelle Nakah for taking the photos. I also heard that the hit horror short film Play Dead filmed a scene at the park, so when that movie gets big, you can go here as a part of Miami movie history. More pictures after the cut.